Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Chakrabarti is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Ramesh Sagili’s Honey Bee Lab at Oregon State University. Her chief focus lies in improving honey bee health by understanding honey bee nutrition and deciphering the effects of pesticides on pollinators. At the Sagili Honey Bee Lab, she is currently studying the key nutrients essential for improving honey bee health. She employs various techniques of molecular ecology, neuroethology, insect physiology, ecotoxicology and apicultural practices to address her research questions. She earned her PhD from the Department of Zoology and Centre for Pollination Studies at the University of Calcutta in India, where she studied the effects of pesticides on native wild Indian honey bees. She was the recipient of the prestigious Royal Society Newton International Fellowship. She also pursued research at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, UK, being awarded the prominent Newton Bhaba PhD Placement Fellowship. She has published several peer reviewed scientific journals, books chapters and extension articles. Apart from mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, she also interacts at daylong seminars with schoolchildren to teach honey bee biology and spread environmental and pollinator awareness.

Listen in to learn the importance of sterols in honeybee health, why they are so important, and the research Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti has done on them.

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“[Sterols] are building blocks of cellular membranes. That is why we are trying to focus on them, because without these sterols, you would basically have a dead bee.” – Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti

Show Notes:

  • The key nutrients that are needed to make a bee
  • Why sterols are so important for bee nutrition, and where they get it from
  • How sterols are a honeybee’s first line of defense against pests and parasites
  • What intrigued Priyadarshini about sterols and the role they play with bees
  • How Priyadarshini tested the effects of sterols and the research it was based on
  • The results of her study and what beekeepers can learn from it
  • What sterols were found in all different kinds of bee food
  • What Priyadarshini and her team are hoping to learn by continuing their study into metabolites

“It’s not just one nutrient, it’s a combination of various factors. We are focusing on phytosterols for now, and we are hoping to also look at the various factors that go into it.” – Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti

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Christina Mogren on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Mogren is an assistant researcher of pollinator ecology at University of Hawaii Manoa, with a research program focused on how nutrition can be used to increase pollinator health to mitigate stress caused by pesticides, parasites, and disease. After receiving her PhD in Entomology from UC Riverside, she went on to two postdoctoral positions with the USDA-ARS in Brookings, SD and the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge, LA. She currently serves the beekeeping community of Hawaii with a 60% research and 40% extension appointment.

Listen in to learn the relationship of pollinators with native flora and fauna of Hawaii, and what is being done to aid local agriculture and beekeeping.

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“A lot of the plants [in Hawaii] evolved with bird and beetle pollinators, there’s only one native genus of bee.” – Dr. Christina Mogren

Show Notes:

  • What kinds of pollinators are native to Hawaii
  • How their isolation on the island has affected the evolution of Hawaii’s only native bee
  • Why Hawaii is one of the leading places to grow queens
  • What makes Hawaii’s relationship with varroa unique
  • How Christina is developing educational resources for Hawaiian residents interested in beekeeping
  • How the volcanic activity affects pollinators
  • Some of the unique crops that Hawaii hosts
  • How having pollinators present influences the crop yield
  • The problems that some of the local crop present that could be solved with other bee species

“We have a lot of seismic activity, and when you have those, it turns into sting central. Bees don’t like volcanoes either.” – Dr. Christina Mogren

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Dr. Ramesh Sagili on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Ramesh Sagili is an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University. He obtained his PhD in Entomology from Texas A&M University in 2007, specializing in honey bee research. His primary research focus at OSU is honey bee health, nutrition and pollination. His appointment also includes extension and hence he also works closely with the stakeholders. He initiated the creation of Oregon Master Beekeeper Program in 2010 and chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Pollinator Health in 2014. He has strived to establish a vibrant and dynamic honey bee research and extension program at OSU to cater the needs of beekeepers and producers. He has authored several important research and extension publications. In 2017 he received the Entomological Society of America’s Pacific Branch Research Award and also the Eastern Apicultural Society’s Outstanding Research Award.

Listen in as we talk about honey bee nutrition, what beekeepers need to know about nutrition supplements and sterols, and what Ramesh has learned about controlling varroa mites.

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“There is a lot we don’t understand about the role of sterols in the honey bee diet”. – Dr. Ramesh Sagili

Show Notes:

  • How much is currently known about honey bee nutrition
  • The importance of the sterols in the honey bee’s growth
  • What Ramesh’s research on sterols and honey bees has shown about larval growth
  • The role that protein supplement can play in the health of your hive
  • How bees can get their necessary nutrients and sterols with artificial feed
  • What kinds of problems varroa mites present, and Ramesh’s research into mitigating their effects
  • Some of the questions surrounding varroa mites, and what we know about them
  • What “mite drifting” is, and how population density plays into it

“We had low density areas and high density areas of hive and we watched how Varroa mite infestations changed over time. This allowed us to quantify the migration of mites among apiaries.  [Preliminary findings were] that mite levels almost doubled in the high density areas. It was a real eye-opener”. – Dr. Ramesh Sagili

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